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adesso Blog

Our blog series presents results from the current adesso study ‘What online shoppers want and companies offer’. In it we asked 1,000 online shoppers what makes for a good customer experience and polled hundreds of companies to find out what they do to ensure online customers have a pleasant shopping experience. Comparing the results produced some interesting insights and revealed gaps in the responses from the two groups. In the previous article in our blog series, we took a closer look at the results relating to the aspect of customer experience . In this article we’ll be focussing on personalised marketing.

There are a number of relevant strategies, measures and technologies in and around customer experience management. This also includes many popular buzzwords like personalisation, marketing automation and account-based marketing. What better time than now to define these three terms and explain how and where they differ to make easier for you to understand them.

Marketing automation

Marketing automation is the automation of relevant marketing processes needed to acquire and retain customers. If a company wants to automate its marketing activities, it will have to use a software platform. Prioritising and automating these tasks along the marketing/sales funnel can save a lot of time, reduce the amount of manual work and, ultimately, help lower costs. Let me explain using a marketing campaign as an example: The goal of marketing automation is to draw prospective customers deeper into the funnel or create a stronger bond between customers and the brand/company. To serve the target groups, a defined piece of content is displayed across as many channels as possible or at all relevant locations on the website(s) and portals.


Personalisation is slightly broader in scope. Based on existing behavioural patterns and past trends, companies can provide current and prospective customers with the most relevant and suitable information and offers on B2C or B2B websites and portals. This is done using personalised content displayed to each user at a defined location on the website or on other channels. Needless to say, a marketing automation solution can also be used here.

Account-based marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM), on the other hand, clearly falls under the banner of B2B marketing. The focus is on individual accounts which are treated like separate, self-contained markets. It’s just as important to customise and fully personalise content as it is to develop highly specialised marketing measures for the buying centres (decision-making groups) and, more specifically, for the buyer persona (decision-makers with a role in the buying process). This is also why ABM focuses on the key accounts and engages, if at all possible, before the actual awareness phase of the accounts. It is clearly an extension of inbound marketing, with additional resources required beyond the scope of marketing automation. While ABM is a marketing activity that is heavily driven by sales, it requires a high level of personal dedication from business customers.

What level of personalisation do the target groups actually want?

As part of our CX study, we surveyed 1,000 consumers on our panel and asked them the following question: ‘What is your general opinion of personalised advertising?’ And the results showed that 47 per cent have a generally negative to very negative opinion of personalised advertising, while only 16 per cent of respondents rated it as generally or highly positive.

It should also be noted that more than a third of all respondents (37 per cent) have a neutral opinion of personalised advertising. Next, we asked the respondents which types of personalisation they like or tend to dislike. As it turns out, when it comes to hobbies/interests and previously purchased items, consumers are quite comfortable with this type of personalisation (see pie charts below).

Age and marital status are off-limits

The CX study has also clearly shown that personalisation has its limits. When personalised advertising specifically references personal data, a significantly higher portion of respondents rated it negatively. The use of data such as age (15 per cent) and marital status (11 per cent) in personalisation is highly unpopular. This applies uniformly across all customer groups.

Another aspect of personalised marketing is the choice of channels. Here, too, there are certain methods which customers do not like. Using texts or WhatsApp as channels for personalised advertising, for example, is not a good idea because only six per cent of respondents were favourable to receiving text messages and a mere four per cent to receiving messages via WhatsApp. When it comes to discounts or other advertisements, these should ideally be placed prominently on the website and on e-commerce portals (viewed positively by 39 per cent of respondents) or sent by e-mail (rated generally or very positive by 26 per cent of respondents).

Marketing automation is becoming more and more important

In our last blog post, we were surprised to find that marketing automation came in at the bottom (8 per cent) as a success driver for customer experience management. That is why we asked the following question later on in the study: ‘What role does marketing automation with regard to customer experience management play at your company at the moment? How would you rate the importance of marketing automation with regards to CXM at your company going forward?’ In reply to this question, there were some quite encouraging results from the 373 company representatives who responded. For instance, one out of two companies (50 per cent) believe marketing automation has a major or critical role to play now, while a full 70 per cent feel this will be true in the future. So it is more of a success driver than the initial question might have suggested.

As an IT service provider, we were also clearly interested in how customer data is processed and analysed. So we asked companies the following: ‘What tools or software solutions do you use to manage data or to process and analyse customer data?’

A significant majority indicated that they are using a CRM platform (65 per cent already do and 25 per cent are planning to do so). E-mail dispatch tools from Inxmail or other vendors are also being used by a majority of companies, i.e., 58 per cent are already using one and 21 per cent are planning to do so. A separate customer data platform (CDP) is now being used by one out of two companies (50 per cent), while 31 per cent are planning to do so (you can find further results from our CX study here: LINK).

Account-based marketing (ABM)

We described ABM at the beginning as a special form of personalised marketing in the B2B space. We were interested in hearing what the companies surveyed had to say here, too. After all, 51 per cent of respondents consider ABM to be very to critically important today. In addition, 67 per cent feel that ABM will become generally or significantly more important in the future. In absolute terms, account-based marketing is no longer one of the main marketing and sales activities at companies.


For marketing to be relevant to the target groups, personalisation makes absolute sense. In this respect, marketing automation is not only a significant success driver for customer experience management in the eyes of consultants like those at adesso, but, more importantly, from the perspective of corporate marketing managers. However, the survey also shows that a highly personalised approach strikes a nerve and requires that the company exercise a great deal of discretion. Ingo Gregus, Managing Director at adesso digital Experience, sees it this way: ‘As the study shows, personalisation is a good thing, but it’s important not to cross the line. Companies should therefore always make sure that their campaigns and choice of channels are similar to the approach a salesperson in the field would take: low-key customer service is a winning strategy. If the advertising is too personal, this will have the opposite effect.’ I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Would you like to read the full CX study?

Download the study (available in German)

All parts of this blog series

Would you like to learn more about exciting topics from the adesso world? Then take a look at our previously published blog posts.

Picture Heike Heger

Author Heike Heger

Heike Heger is teamleader fro Sales Marketing & Campaign Management in the area of Corporate Marketing & Communications at adesso.

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